Transporting racehorses isn’t an easy job—but our experts aren’t horsing around with their adept skills
The tale and trade of transporting racehorses
Horseracing is one of the heritage sports of Dubai. Dubai World Cup, a Thoroughbred horse race, has been held annually on the last Saturday of March, since 1996. Conducted by the Emirates Racing Authority, it was first held at the Nad Al Sheba Racecourse, and since 2010, at the iconic Meydan Grandstand and Racecourse. Winners can boast of a prize money of $10mn, and tens of thousands of people descend upon the city every year to bask in the magnitude of this event.
The race itself falls under the banner of the Dubai World Cup Night, which includes seven other Thoroughbred races, and one Purebred Arabian race.
Undeniably, transporting the horses for the races is one of the biggest challenges. Complete care has to be ensured during the course of a journey, and the horses travel in utmost luxury, inside a stable that includes bedding, hay, and plenty of water. Horses have very fragile legs and greatest care must be taken not to harm them when the animals are walked into the stall. Grooms make sure the horses are constantly fed and hydrated; they are clearly the stars of the event.
Emirates Skycargo, the freight division of Emirates airline, has been transporting some of the world’s best racehorses to Dubai for the global racing event.
“Emirates Skycargo is no stranger to
transporting horses,” says Hiran Perera, Emirates senior vice president, cargo planning & freighters. “We have been engaged in equine transport from 2002 onwards. Right from the process of boarding, we ensure that the welfare of the horses is kept in mind.”
In 2017, the freighter transported Arrogate, the world’s highest rated racehorse at the time. Arrogate was joined by stable companion Hoppertunity, another contender for the Dubai World Cup, for the journey from United States to Dubai. The carrier worked with the international equine transport specialist Janah Management Company, who also provided highly specialised grooms to accompany the horses, to ensure successful and safe transportation.
“Emirates Skycargo transports all breeds of horses-- racing horses as well as horses for endurance races and other major equestrian events such as show jumping and dressage,” explains Perera. “Because of our reach and network, we transport horses all over the world— not just the Dubai World Cup but a number of major equestrian events around the world. Last year, we transported over 100 horses across three continents for the Longines Global Champions Tour. We had to operate 10 dedicated freighter flights with around 25 horse stalls per flight to make this happen.”
In June 2017, Emirates Skycargo successfully transported some of the world’s best show jumping horses across three continents in the space of a month. The horses were transported from Liege in Belgium to compete in the first three legs of the Longines Global Champions Tour in Mexico City, Miami, and Shanghai in April 2017. Emirates Skycargo worked closely with Peden Bloodstock, a specialist in horse transportation to manage the complex logistics involved in flying close to 100 horses across four different countries within the space of a few weeks.
Emirates Skycargo transported 93 horses in two flights from Liege to Mexico City for the first segment of the journey between March 31 and April 1, 2017. The horses, each weighing between 600-650kgs, were transported in Emirates Skycargo Boeing 777F freighters along with 11 accompanying grooms and about 30 tonnes of equipment. The flights lasted close to 12 hours and the horses arrived at their destination a few days ahead of the start of the championships. Incidentally, all the winners of the CSI 5 level competitions at the Longines Global Champions Tour event in Mexico City had travelled on board Emirates Skycargo.
The second leg of the tour involved a relatively shorter three hour hop for the 93 horses from Mexico City to Miami onboard Emirates Skycargo freighters. At the close of the event in Miami, the horses were brought back to Liege on April 16, 2017.
For the next stop in the itinerary, the air cargo carrier transported 96 horses and 27 grooms in three separate flights from Liege to Shanghai on April 22-23, 2017 and back on May 1-2, 2017. The jet-setting horses had approximately one week on the ground at each destination to compete in tournaments before being transported to the next stop on their itinerary.
Emirates Skycargo’s freighter hub at Dubai World Central airport includes dedicated areas for handling and airside ramps for horses, one of the very few global locations that hosts a permanent dedicated horse ramp. The carrier also provides custom designed horse stalls and trained and experienced expert personnel to ensure proper handling and welfare of the horses. Inside the cargo hold of the aircraft, the temperature is set to ensure maximum comfort and minimum stress for the horses. Premium horses can also travel with profes-
Champion Horse Arrogate arriving in Dubai at horseramp DWC
Photo by: Gabriel Nascimento